WSJ on Apple’s Video Service: Starz, Showtime, and HBO to Cost $9.99 Per Month, Roku May Gain Apple TV App

The Wall Street Journal has outlined its expectations for Apple's media event tomorrow at Steve Jobs Theater, where the company is expected to introduce subscription-based services for movies and TV shows, magazines and newspapers, and possibly games. The keynote begins Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.


As we've heard previously, the report claims Apple plans to unveil the first footage from some of its new original TV shows at the event. Hollywood stars such as actress Reese Witherspoon and director J.J. Abrams have been invited to attend.

The report claims Apple plans to charge a fee for its original content, despite some sources previously saying it would be free to Apple device owners.

Apple's revamped TV app will make it easier to subscribe to networks such as Starz, Showtime and HBO, with which Apple has been "negotiating to offer their shows to users for $9.99 a month each." It's unclear if that means each network will cost $9.99 per month or if each user will pay $9.99 per month total.

Apple is said to be negotiating to bring its new TV app to multiple platforms, including Roku and smart TVs. This could refer to an expansion of the new iTunes movies and TV shows app coming to Samsung's latest smart TVs to other leading TV brands such as Sony and LG and to cheaper brands such as TCL and Sharp via Roku.

Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio already announced that their latest smart TVs are gaining AirPlay 2 support, enabling users to stream video, audio, photos, and other content directly from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to the big screen. Apple and Roku are also in advanced discussions about AirPlay 2 support.

Apple is also expected to unveil a revamped News app with an optional premium tier that provides access to more than 200 magazines, including Bon Appétit, People, and Glamour, as well as newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal. The report claims Apple plans to charge $9.99 per month for the service.


The revamped Apple News app is expected to be based on Texture, the magazine subscription service that Apple acquired last year. The report claims The Washington Post and The New York Times are not participating in the service at launch due to disagreements over Apple's alleged 50-50 revenue split.

The report goes on to mention how Apple CEO Tim Cook began holding monthly meetings with Apple's services division around late 2017 as the company aims to grow its revenue from existing subscription offerings such as Apple Music and iCloud storage.

These meetings are said to include "monitoring of apps that benefit and threaten Apple":
For Mr. Cook's monthly services meetings, the company has intensified monitoring of apps that benefit and threaten Apple. The team has created a release radar for the CEO to track apps that are expected to sell well and other metrics for the apps that have challenged Apple's business, including iTunes sales decreases compared with Apple Music subscription growth…
Apple's video and news subscription offerings will certainly help the company expand its service portfolio further, but its exact plans are still clouded in secrecy. In less than 24 hours, we'll have a better understanding.

Apple will provide a livestream of the event.

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Apple Considered Offering Original TV Content Free to Customers Who Bought AppleCare

Apple will debut its rumored television service on Monday, and ahead of the event, The Washington Post has shared some new details on the planning that has gone into Apple's TV service.

When deciding how to distribute its original television content and at what cost, Apple reportedly considered offering free television shows to customers who paid the extra fee for AppleCare for their Mac and iOS devices.


Apple also considered an offering through the Apple TV, and recent rumors have suggested that the content Apple offers will actually be provided through the TV app on iOS devices and the company's set-top box. There's also a possibility that Apple will distribute its content outside of its own platform as well, which is something else the company has mulled.

Apple's plans are still not clear to industry insiders and Hollywood executives, and one source that provided the above info to The Washington Post said that Apple's plans have changed multiple times.
"Whatever they try to sell on Monday, it's not what they started with and they are trying to figure out what kind of engine to put in while the plane is in the air," the executive said.
Film and TV creators who are working with Apple have been left in the dark about the company's plans and do not know if content will be exclusive to Apple users or available to everyone. Creators received "obfuscation and ambiguous responses" when asking about distribution, with some speculating that Apple may not have made up its mind about the finer details of the streaming service.
"Apple is the only company in the world that can drop a couple million dollars in entertainment and get Reese Witherspoon and M. Night Shamalayan on board without any articulation of a plan in terms of marketing or distribution," said one well-connected Hollywood executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to upset Apple.
Recent reports from The Information and Recode have suggested Apple may be planning to offer its own content in the TV app at no cost as a way to lure Apple users to purchase subscriptions for other services, such as Showtime or Starz, within the TV app.

Apple plans to offer a range of different content from various content partners, and has plans to provide bundles of cable channels. These partnerships are said to be the true focus of Apple's TV service, and what will drive up the company's services revenue.

As we've previously heard, Apple has invested millions of dollars in its original television shows. Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, who will star in a morning show drama tentatively called "The Morning Show," are being paid approximately $1.1 million per episode each.

While there have been mixed rumors about Apple's efforts to control the content that's released on its platform, Apple has been willing to create "edgy" shows. One person involved with Apple said Apple executives in Cupertino have stayed out of the creative process.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has, however, "passed notes" to writers on Apple shows through Apple's Hollywood team because Tim Cook, as we've heard before, is aiming to protect Apple's brand and reputation. Apple, for example, shelved "Vital Signs," a show starring Dr. Dre, as was reported earlier last year. Apple could perhaps release this show sometime later, according to sources that spoke to The Washington Post.

Apple will answer at least some of the questions about its streaming service plans on Monday, March 25, which is when its "It's Showtime" event will take place. The event will start at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with MacRumors planning to offer live coverage both on MacRumors.com and the MacRumorsLive Twitter account.


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Apple Plans to Sell Bundles of Cable TV Channels Through New Streaming Service

While Apple's new TV streaming service will include its own original content, Apple will also be offering customers access to video streaming subscriptions from third-party services, such as HBO and Showtime.

Part of this effort could potentially include bundles of channels from various content providers, according to new reports from Recode and The Information.


Apple has negotiated rights to bundle streaming services together as part of its deals with media firms, which will allow it to offer packages of channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz at a price that's lower than what each service would cost on a standalone basis. From Recode:
That wholesale/retail relationship also means Apple, not the streamers, can set the price for the stuff it sells. Apple isn't likely to sell, say, HBO for less than HBO sells itself on rival platforms like Roku. But it definitely plans to sell bundles of pay tv channels at a discount, just like pay TV operators have always done.
It's not entirely clear when Apple plans to offer bundles like these, but providing discounted access to a group of channels would provide Apple with an edge over Amazon. Amazon, as The Information points out, allows customers to sign up for streaming services like Showtime through their Amazon account, but customers must pay full price.

According to Recode, Apple's service isn't going to be a major Netflix or Hulu competitor because the focus is going to be on selling streaming video subscriptions from other companies and taking a cut of the transaction. Apple is working on original content, but its own shows and movies "should be considered very expensive giveaways, not the core product."

Apple is offering its content partners a revenue share that's similar to Amazon, which keeps 30 to 50 percent of the subscription fee. Apple, however, won't be offering access to as much data as Amazon provides. Still, The Information says publishers find bundling "appealing," and Apple has been touting its huge subscriber base to score deals. Apple's subscription TV content will be made available through its existing TV app which is available on the Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad.

There's no word on which channels Apple will include in bundles, but Apple has signed deals with 15 streaming channels for separate subscriptions, including digital only services like Cheddar and Tastemade and TV channels like Showtime and Starz. Apple has not yet inked a deal with HBO.

Apple is going to introduce its streaming service at its upcoming March 25 event, and the service is expected to launch in the United States later in the spring before expanding to additional countries.

Apple is also unveiling an Apple News subscription service at the event, and rumors have suggested that the TV and news services could be bundled with Apple Music as part of one subscription for Apple users. Apple is also going to announce an Apple credit card provided by Goldman Sachs.

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‘Downton Abbey’ Star Michelle Dockery and ‘IT’ Actor Jaeden Martell Join Apple Series ‘Defending Jacob’

Michelle Dockery, best know for her role as Lady Mary Crawley in PBS's "Downton Abbey," has signed on to star in "Defending Jacob," one of the TV shows Apple has ordered.

"Defending Jacob" is a thriller based on William Landay's bestselling novel of the same title. The book covers the murder of a 14-year-old boy and his friend Jacob, who may have committed the crime.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Described as a character-driven thriller, the show will star Chris Evans and also Jaeden Martell, who starred in the recent remake of Stephen King's "IT."

Evans will be playing Andy Barber, the father of a 14 year old (played by Martell) accused of murder. Dockery will be playing Laurie Barber, Andy's wife and Jacob's mother.

Apple has more than a dozen television shows in the works, and the company is set to give us a first look at its upcoming streaming service on Monday, March 25 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

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Netflix CEO Confirms Netflix Won’t Be Part of Apple’s Upcoming Video Service

Apple is set to unveil its long-rumored TV service next Monday, and ahead of the event, Netflix has confirmed that it won't be participating in Apple's streaming offering.

At a briefing at the company's headquarters in Hollywood, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that while Apple is a "great company," Netflix isn't interested in offering its content on other platforms. "We want to have people watch our shows on our services," he said, according to Recode.


Netflix has never embraced Apple TV features like "Up Next" designed to allow Apple TV users to see all of their watched TV shows at a glance, so it's no surprise to hear that Netflix does not plan to offer its content through Apple's upcoming streaming service.

Set to be launched next week, Apple's TV offering will feature both its original content and add-on content from other cable providers like Showtime and HBO. Apple will allow customers to sign up for subscriptions to third-party services like HBO right within the TV app, which will serve as Apple's TV content hub.

Apple's video hub will be similar to what Amazon offers through its Prime Video app. Amazon provides original TV shows along with options to subscribe to premium content through a Channels feature.

In response to a question about how Netflix will compete with Apple and Amazon going forward, Hastings said the company will do so "with difficulty," though he pointed out that Netflix has already been competing with Amazon for years.

"You do your best job when you have great competitors," he said, before admitting that the increased competition has led to higher prices when sourcing content.

Apple is going to give us a first look at its video service on Monday, March 25, at an event set to be held at its Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. Multiple celebrities that are starring in Apple shows, like Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, and Reese Witherspoon, will be present.

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Apple Has Wrapped Filming on Five Original TV Shows Ahead of Streaming Service Launch

In one week, Apple will host a media event in California focused mainly on details about its upcoming TV streaming service. This week, The New York Times published a report about the state of a few shows on the service, hinting at which ones might be available at launch, the issues some partners have with Apple's plans, and more.


According to the story, around 11 projects have either completed filming or are nearing the end of filming, meaning they are the likeliest to appear in the "first wave" of shows on Apple's service. While we'll get the first glimpse at Apple's streaming service next week, the full service isn't expected to launch until later in the year.

Shows that have finished shooting include "Are You Sleeping?" starring Octavia Spencer; Ronald D. Moore's "For All Mankind"; M. Night Shyamalan's thriller series; Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney's unnamed comedy; and "Dickinson" starring Hailee Steinfeld. Looking forward, the number of original Apple productions is expected to increase in 2020.

Apple is said to be using this event to show customers "just how many shows [it] has pulled together," and that its streaming service will be worth checking out at launch. Combined with content purchased from third parties, Apple's offering could put it on par with the size of Hulu, Showtime, or FX, according to The New York Times. Previous rumors have suggested the launch lineup would be predominantly third party content.

More than a dozen people who have had dealings with Apple's TV service did reference concerns about the project in this week's report. Many working with Apple have received "little or no information" regarding the time frame of their shows' release dates, other than vague statements like "later this year, probably fall." Apple has also not divulged marketing plans to its partners.
Apple’s entertainment team has not been totally opaque. It has provided feedback to individuals involved in the shows, but it has been tight-lipped about the marketing and rollout plans. The March 25 event may allay Hollywood’s concerns, but several people involved in the new programs have interpreted the lack of communication as a sign that there may not be a clear game plan.
Apple has also reportedly been "squeamish" when it comes to the portrayal of its own technology in the shows. The company is said to ask specific questions about how iPhones or MacBooks will be used, suggesting that they prefer them to be seen in positive situations.

Apple's "It's Show Time" event will kick off on Monday, March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park Campus in California. As with most Apple events, it will start at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time or 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The event is also expected to include the unveiling of its expanded Apple News service.


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Apple Will Reportedly Screen Original Content for Top Awards Like Oscars and Emmys

Ahead of its widely expected video service unveil on March 25, Apple is hiring strategists to arrange screenings and other publicity events for Hollywood insiders and others who vote on which movies and TV shows win prestigious awards like Oscars and Emmys, according to Bloomberg's Anousha Sakoui and Mark Gurman.


From the report:
Apple is forming a team of people with awards strategy experience. In January, it hired one such person from Walt Disney Co.'s television group. The iPhone maker is also seeking a high-level candidate to oversee the process, one of the people familiar with the situation said. The company could be in the running for Emmy awards as early as 2020, according to people familiar with the process.
Apple already has dozens of original TV shows and movies lined up for the service, including an unnamed morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell.

Apple would be following in the footsteps of other streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, which have all had original content nominated for awards like Oscars and Emmys in the past few years. As the report notes, winning awards could attract higher-profile directors and actors to Apple.

The report also claims that Apple will charge for some content, while other video will be free for Apple device users.


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Apple Formally Orders ‘Pachinko’ TV Series Based on Bestselling Novel

Apple has given a formal series order for "Pachinko," a drama based on the bestselling novel of the same name, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Pachinko" chronicles the lives of four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family as they migrate to and establish a life in Japan. Apple first acquired the rights to a TV show based on the book in August 2018.

The novel begins in 1911 with the birth of Sunja, who becomes involved with a married yakuza, falling pregnant and facing ruin in her small village. The town's minister offers her a new life in Japan as his wife, where she is alone, lost, and unable to speak the language. The book then follows the Sunja's family through eight decades and four generations.

The TV adaptation of "Pachinko" will be written and produced by Soo Hugh, who will also serve as showrunner. Hugh has previously worked on "The Terror," "The Whispers," "Under the Dome," and "The Killing." Eight episodes are planned so far.

Apple has more than a dozen original TV shows in the works, which will be distributed through an upcoming streaming service that will be made available in the TV app.

Apple is hosting a March 25 event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, where it is expected to unveil details on the TV service.

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Apple in Content Talks With Owner of Fremantle, Co-Producer of American Idol and Other Reality Shows

RTL Group, the largest broadcasting and production company in Europe, has confirmed a potential content partnership with Apple.


"Discussions with new OTT platforms such as Apple are also being held," said RTL Group CEO Bert Habets, speaking on the company's earnings call today, according to Deadline. OTT is short for over-the-top media services and presumably refers to Apple's widely expected streaming video service.

RTL Group owns Fremantle, which co-produces reality series and game shows such as American Idol, America's Got Talent, The Price is Right, and Family Feud in the United States. It is unclear if any of these series would be distributed on Apple's video service or if a partnership would focus solely on original content.

Apple is expected to unveil its video platform at its March 25 event at Steve Jobs Theater. The company already has dozens of original TV shows and movies lined up for the service, including an unnamed morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell.

Multiple reports indicate that Apple plans to launch the video service by April or May, with a rollout to more than 100 countries expected by the end of the year. A subscription format is expected, but pricing remains a question mark.


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Apple ‘Racing’ to Sign HBO, Showtime, and Starz for TV Service Before March 25 Event

Apple has already invited members of the press to an event on March 25, where it's believed the company will reveal its TV streaming service and Apple News subscription service. Today, Bloomberg has shared a few new details about the upcoming event, suggesting that Apple may preview new Apple Pay features and that most of Apple's original TV shows will miss the streaming service's launch window.


Additionally, Apple is said to be "racing" to secure movies and TV shows from partner companies ahead of the event. According to people familiar with the matter, Apple is offering concessions to partners in order to get deals done by a Friday deadline. These include HBO, Showtime, and Starz.

"At least a couple deals" are expected to close by Friday, but it's unclear if Apple will get all the programming from outside media companies that it wants for its streaming service.

Today's report claims that most of the shows and movies on the streaming service at launch will be from outside partners, not Apple's own shows, so the company is attempting to ensure that there is plenty of content to entice customers to check the service out.
At an all-hands meeting with employees in January after announcing disappointing holiday sales, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told employees how critical services are to the company’s future. This trio of new services will be the first major addition to the portfolio for consumers since the company launched Apple Pay in 2014 and Apple Music a year later.
The idea of an Apple services bundle is also brought up again in today's report, with Bloomberg's sources stating that Apple could offer the TV service and Apple News service at a discount for anyone who subscribes to both.

Lastly, Apple might take time to detail the company's iPhone-connected credit card, built in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Code named "Project Cookie", Goldman Sachs is said to have nearly 40 people working on the Apple deal, while Apple's side is being led by the Apple Pay team.

To find out more information on what might be announced during the March 25 event, check out our What To Expect guide.


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